I buy my 4 year-old-daughter (we’ll call her L) nice clothing. Not the nicest, but stylish and pretty. But I don’t just buy something because it will look cute on her – I also buy so I can sell it later.
It began when we lived in Illinois for a (cold) spell, the moms group I joined had a major resale event, selling every child item you can imagine. It happened to coincide with our move to Dallas, so I sold almost all of L’s clothing I was holding on to – from her birth to her just-grown-out-of size 3T. It was a LOT of clothing, a lot of work, but I made bank! I never knew hand-me-downs could be so lucrative. I thought people just gave them away.
When I got to Dallas, I found a private resale business that works much like the one in Illinois. They hold a huge event twice a year in my city (Spring and Fall). I organize my clothing and they organize the logistics. Three days after the sale, I get my check. Getting the clothes entered online, labeled, checked for stains and hung correctly (you wouldn’t believe the emails I get about the right hangers to use) is time consuming. However, the lure of the cash keeps me going. When I sort through the piles of t-shirts, dresses and skirts, I look like a Hanna Barbara cartoon character with dollar signs in my eyes. Recently I bought two dresses from Land’s End and got pissed when I saw grease stains on the front after their first wash. My husband said, “She can still wear them,” and I said, “But I won’t be able to sell them!” Obsession is too big a word, but certainly I am overtaken by the competitive spirit of the sale. Can I get $10 for this Polo dress she only wore once? Will they notice the yellow mark on the back of the Osh Kosh t-shirt sleeve? What will people pay for a Target brand? I am a goal oriented person, and the entire affair feeds into this desire to start, work on and finish a task with success. Besides, I get a couple hundred dollars that I get to spend on, you guessed it, more clothing!
Right now, I have a pile of out-grown clothes waiting to be inspected and sorted. I have winter things that can’t be put into the next Spring sale. That means perfectly good coats, sweat pants and shoes will sit in my closet till next August. Therein lies my dilemma. We have needy people in my county. We have a woman’s shelter that collects clothing for children, not to mention the postcard I get every two weeks from various charities looking for donated items or the bag hung on my door where I just stuff it and leave it on my porch. I don’t even have to call. At this difficult time, when needs are growing and giving is slowing, is it right to hold onto that adorable plaid Old Navy coat that I KNOW I can get at least $12 for next year when some little girl could really use it? I give the stained clothing (wearable but not sellable) to charity. So, I’m giving them the not-good-enough stuff? When did I become haughty?
So, what do I do? Do I give away the nice, winter-appropriate things because it is the right thing to do? Or do I hoard them for my own needs and just give whatever I was already planning to give? Do I have another option? Help me resolve this problem – it is getting cold outside and no one is getting anything until I figure this one out. Least of all me.
UPDATE: I appreciate all of the comments. To answer the most mentioned plan, the tax write-off, I don’t own my home and we haven’t found tax write-offs to do much for our bottom line (that doesn’t keep us from doing them when appropriate, however). After considering the advice given, I have decided to give away the warm clothing to charity but keep the toys given to my daughter that she hasn’t opened yet and use them for gifts for classmates (they are from her birthday and she doesn’t even know they exist). This way, I am saving money by not having to buy gifts and doing something good for others at the same time. Thanks for saving me from a year of feeling guilty by holding on to those clothes!